The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ~ A Capsule Movie Review

The Hobbit poster

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ~ A Capsule Movie Review By Allen Kopp

The new movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is the first installment of a trilogy based on a novel by J. R. R. Tokien, the world’s foremost fantasy writer. (The other two parts of the trilogy will be out in 2013 and 2014.) It is a cinematic return to Middle Earth after the enormously successful Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is similar in theme and scope to the Lord of the Rings movies but is a different story entirely, involving mostly a different set of characters.

The movie begins with the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, in his cute little house in the “shire.” He is thoroughly domesticated and lives a comfortable life. (For the uninitiated, a hobbit is a rather human-like being, small in stature, with pointed ears and very large feet—they don’t wear shoes.) One day the wizard, Gandalf the Grey, arrives unexpectedly. Gandalf is very tall in relation to a hobbit. He marks Bilbo’s door to indicate it is to be the meeting place of a delegation of thirteen dwarves. To Bilbo’s dismay, the dwarves arrive and make themselves comfortable in his home, eating his considerable stores of food. It turns out the dwarves are about to embark on a quest to reclaim their homeland from a very bad and very large fire-breathing dragon that loves gold. The dwarves, we are told, are expert at mining gold from the earth and have accumulated enormous piles of it for their greedy king. The dragon flies in, kills the king, takes everything from the dwarves and drives them out into the wilderness.

For some reason that isn’t made clear, the dwarves want Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit to come with them on their quest. He is certain he doesn’t want to leave his comfortable life, but he relents and decides to join them. Almost at once the party of dwarves—plus Bilbo and Gandalf the Grey—encounter dangers and hardships they hadn’t expected. They must deal with Orcs (a kind of brutal, warlike, half-man, half-beast) and disgusting trolls that want to eat them. At one point in the narrative, Bilbo Baggins encounters the Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies and finds himself in possession of the “ring” that he doesn’t understand the significance of. (The Gollum hasn’t become any more attractive in the intervening years.)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (and the upcoming two installments of the trilogy) has the same director, writers, and production team as the Lord of the Rings movies, so it is essentially a continuation of what has gone before. It is big, loud, and long. In 3D it is beautiful to look at with its outdoor vistas and computer-generated effects. I’m not a huge fan of this kind of fantasy but I found it engaging and certainly worth the price of admission, plus the nearly three hours running time. My one quibble is that we’re going to have to wait a year (God willing) to find out how the dwarves get the dragon away from the gold. You can bet they’re going to have a huge, special effects-laden fight on their hands!

Copyright © 2012 by Allen Kopp

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